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San Diego police officer suspended amid accusations that he made light of memorial for man he shot

San Diego Police Chief David Nisleit at a news conference
Chief David Nisleit speaks about an officer’s social media post on a memorial of a man who was fatally shot.
(Kristian Carreon / For the San Diego Union-Tribune)

A San Diego police officer accused of posting on social media a photo that appeared to make light of a makeshift memorial for a man he fatally shot in June has been suspended without pay, police Chief David Nisleit announced Tuesday.

The chief also said Officer Jonathon Lucas, who has been on the force for about four years, was stripped of his police powers, meaning he was forced to give up his gun and badge.

Lucas came under fire after a screenshot of a photo of the memorial for Leonardo Ibarra, whom Lucas and another officer fatally shot in downtown San Diego on June 27, surfaced online. Written over the photo — which was posted to Instagram — were emojis that depict a series of faces laughing and crying, along with "#Eastside.”

It’s unclear what the hashtag refers to.

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During an afternoon news conference Tuesday, Nisleit condemned the alleged actions, which he said do not represent the San Diego Police Department as a whole. Nisleit also apologized to the Ibarra family and acknowledged that the alleged actions hurt police-community relations.

“I want to be very clear, this behavior is not acceptable,” he said.

A police spokesman said Nisleit ordered an internal investigation immediately after the department was contacted via social media and made aware of the Instagram posting.

The shooting of Ibarra drew intense scrutiny amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

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